AS Steve McClaren sat alongside what must be the most expensively assembled coaching team in football league history on Saturday, there must have been at least one moment when he pinched himself at the fact that this was the same Middlesbrough Football Club which he led to the final of the UEFA cup just seven years ago.
In fact, it was probably only the second-half appearance of McClaren era stalwart and regular Thursday-night glory days full-back Stuart Parnaby which verified the matter.
The annual harking reference back to the days of European football is something Boro fans have been unable to avoid for the last few years – for it is the glaring proof of just how far we have fallen.
Just as everyone in Teesside, regardless of your outlook on the Boro’s current situation, are unable to avoid the unwanted stats being thrown around at the minute.
Unless you have been hiding behind Eston Nab for the last nine months, then you will know Boro have won just four games in 2013.
You will know, as it seems to continue to be echoed around Teesside, that if the league campaign ran alongside the calendar year we would be cast adrift and preparing for visits to the Priestfield Stadium and Vale Park.
And you will know that we have only won one game this season, and haven’t picked up three points in the last seven attempts.
You can’t ignore stats. Unfortunately, the stats never lie.
But in reality, the only stat that really matters now is this season’s league table.
The 2013 results, granted they are appalling, are merely a stick to beat Mogga with. And it’s a stick which more and more are getting their mits on.
Bruce Rioch always said he wouldn’t even cast his eyes upon a league table until the end of October.
Mogga has echoed those words, but unless he gets a swift turnaround in fortunes and results in the coming weeks his initial look at the said league table will be met with a grimace.
In truth, we couldn’t have a better opportunity to kick-start the season than the next four games.
Whereas those who have already made up their mind will always have those frightening figures to strengthen their cause, October is a chance to instil some belief again, to install football’s magic term – momentum.
Trips to Wigan and Nottingham Forest and the visit of Bournemouth were all dropped pointS. Draws met with positives in largely good performances.
But, excuse the blatantly obvious, the league table is put together through results, not performances.
Champions elect QPR are unbeaten in nine but the 2-0 coasting victory over Boro on Saturday was the first time they have won a league match this season by more than a single goal.
Many a Boro fan is still scratching their puzzled heads over just how exactly Steve Bruce masterminded a promotion with a Hull side which looked distinctively average at very best in the times they came up against Boro.
They won 18 times by a single goal – that’s 54 of their 79 points.
Newcastle won 11 games by a single goal in the year they strolled back out of the Championship largely unbruised as Boro fans got to grips with the dark days introduced by Gordon Strachan.
Come the end of the season, performances are forgotten about. Results aren’t. Boro’s current stats are the proof of that.
In Mogga’s early days of what is now remarkably the ninth longest serving management spell in the English game, he often spoke of football utopia.
In the next month I largely suspect he will not care at all how we get the points, as long as we do.
For the 12 points he says we need to achieve would give the table a complete different complexion.
You can’t argue with stats after all.
Reluctantly pressing the speed-dial of the radio call-in Mogga critique bandwagon driver and harking back to that 2013 statistic, expecting four wins on the bounce now is asking a lot, I know.
But we are desperate for a run of results.
A run of results which would hopefully give us momentum and leave Steve McClaren pinching himself when he comes to town with Derby in early December, wondering how this is the same team that QPR had brushed aside earlier in the season.